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The Broadway
TypeDepartment store
FoundedFebruary 24, 1896; 127 years ago (1896-02-24)
FounderArthur Letts Sr.
Defunct1996; 27 years ago (1996)
FateConverted to Macy's
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California
ProductsClothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.

The Broadway was a mid-level department store chain headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1896 by English-born Arthur Letts Sr., and named after what was once the city's main shopping street,[1] the Broadway became a dominant retailer in Southern California and the Southwest. Its fortunes eventually declined, and Federated Department Stores (now Macy's, Inc.) bought the chain in 1995. In 1996, Broadway stores were either closed or converted into Macy's and Bloomingdales.


Original Broadway store as seen around 1908–1910
Original Broadway store as seen around 1908–1910
Back entrance, east side of Hill between 4th and 5th.
Back entrance, east side of Hill between 4th and 5th.
The 1913–1973 Downtown Los Angeles flagship store
The 1913–1973 Downtown Los Angeles flagship store
Sign atop the former Broadway-Hollywood branch, still present today long after the store's closure
Sign atop the former Broadway-Hollywood branch, still present today long after the store's closure


In 1895, J. A. Williams formed J. A. Williams & Co., built and opened his Broadway Department Store on August 29, 1895. In February, 1896 the store was liquidated, and Arthur Letts bought the name, assets, fixtures, and the building lease for $8377 and, on February 24, 1896, the Broadway started operating under Letts.[1][2][3] The previous owners had a good location in a recently constructed building at the southwest corner of Broadway and Fourth Streets,[4] but had all of its assets seized by their creditors for failure to pay its bills after just four short months of operations.[5][6][7] In contrast, Letts was able to pay off all of his creditors in a short period of time after acquiring the assets for the failed store by the quick sale of the same assets and by watching his expenses.[8][9]

In a short period of time, the business was doing so well, that it had to expand into adjacent store fronts.

The New and Greater Broadway (1914–15)

Between 1900 and 1910, the population of Los Angeles more than tripled. Bullock's, in 1907, and Hamburger's (later May Co.), in 1908, had both opened stores occupying entire city blocks. It was clear to Letts that The Broadway needed a new, much larger building.[2]

In 1912 The Broadway announced plans for a new nine-story building with nearly 11 acres of floor space to be built in several phases at the same location (320 W. Fourth St., southwest corner of Broadway, now the Junipero Serra state office building). The store would have 11 passenger and 4 freight elevators; three entrances on Broadway, one on Fourth St. and one on Hill St. The architect was John Joseph (J. J.) Frauenfelder of Parkinson & Bergstrom.[10][11] with construction starting in 1913 while the current store remained in business.[9]

The first phase was to acquire space in the first three floors of the Clark Hotel Building along Hill St.; the hotel backed up to the Broadway's existing store. This 71,000-square-foot (6,600 m2) Hill Street "division" (wing), as it was then called, opened as a new part of the store. The departments from the southern half of the existing store along Broadway were transferred to the Hill St. space on November 3, 1913.[12][13]

The second phase was to demolish the southern building of the existing store complex, along Broadway, and build the southern half of the new Broadway store in its place. This section (96,600 square feet (8,970 m2)) opened on August 10, 1914. Departments from the northern half of the store facing Broadway and Fourth streets were transferred into the new space.[14][15]

Finally, the northern half of the store along Broadway was removed and the northern half of the new Broadway store was built. This section opened on June 25, 1915,[16][17] although the formal inauguration was during Fashion Week on September 16, 1915.[18]

The new "New and Greater Broadway store", as it was advertised,[19] had 242 feet (74 m) of storefront along Broadway and 166 feet (51 m) along Fourth Street. It was 9 stories high and covered 11 acres (4.5 ha), stretching from Broadway all the way west to Hill Street, which also had an entrance.[citation needed]

On November 10, 1924, The Broadway added another building, 80 feet (24 m) wide and 123 feet (37 m) deep, immediately west of the main building along Fourth Street, thus adding 119,790 square feet (11,129 m2) of floor space over ten above-ground and three below-ground floors. It added six passenger and three freight elevators.[20][21]

In summary, the Downtown flagship store evolved in size as follows:[21]

Suburban expansion

In 1931, The Broadway bought the B. H. Dyas Hollywood store which became the Broadway-Hollywood.[22]

In 1940, The Broadway built a landmark three-story store in Pasadena, at the corner of Colorado and Los Robles on the site of the old famous Maryland Hotel. The striking Streamline Moderne building had a 117-foot tower with a marquee facing both streets, and parking for 400 cars.[23] It would be abandoned in 1980 for a newly built store across the street in the new Plaza Pasadena mall.

In 1950, the company merged with Sacramento-based Hale Brothers to form Broadway-Hale Stores. In the same year it purchased the year-old Westchester branch of Milliron's and converted it to a Broadway. The store, designed by legendary retail architect Victor Gruen, was a considered a model of ultra-modern retail architecture at the time, with rooftop parking and striking, angular design designed to attract passing motorists.[24][25]

The Broadway bought out competitors in Los Angeles (B.H. Dyas, Milliron's, and Coulter's), and expanded into new markets through acquisitions of small local chains: Marston's in San Diego and Korricks in Phoenix. In later years the Broadway opened stores in Nevada (Las Vegas), New Mexico, and Colorado. In 1979, it was split into two divisions: The Broadway Southern California, based in Los Angeles; and Broadway Southwest, headquartered in Phoenix, for the stores outside California.


The Broadway's parent Carter Hawley Hale Stores ran into financial difficulties which resulted from poor management decisions and hostile takeover attempts. In 1996 the chain was acquired by Federated Department Stores and the majority of locations were converted to the Macy's nameplate. Several stores in affluent areas where Macy's already had locations, South Coast Plaza,[citation needed] Sherman Oaks Fashion Square, Century City Shopping Center, Beverly Center, and Fashion Island Newport Beach,[26] were closed, refurbished and reopened as Bloomingdale's. Federated sold many of the remaining stores to Sears.

Downtown flagship store

The nine stories Beaux Arts building with its restrained Italian Renaissance Revival ornamentation at the southwest corner of Broadway and Fourth was designed by architects John Parkinson and Edwin Bergstrom to serve as the headquarters and the flagship store for Arthur Letts' Broadway Department store chain with the first phase of construction completed in 1913. Construction, which included demolition of the previous store and expansion to the rest of the block when additional property were acquired, continued on several different stages until 1924. The Broadway occupied this location from 1913 to 1973.

In November 1973, the main downtown flagship store was abandoned in favor of a new small store that just opened a few blocks away at Flower and 7th that was known as Broadway Plaza.

The property changed hands a number of times and had sat empty for a number of years before coming into possession of developer Roger Luby in May 1984. Luby's plans fell apart the following year when his partners, a consortium of 32 Oklahoma savings and loans defaulted as a result of the savings and loan crisis and the $56 million renovation project defaulted on its loans when half completed in September 1986.[27][28]

As state office building

In June 1995, the State of California paid $1.8 million for the building to the Resolution Trust Corporation, which inherited the property upon the collapse of some of the savings and loans, and $61.5 million for renovation[29][30] to replace the unsafe Junipero Serra State Office Building at Broadway and First streets,[31] which was later demolished in 2006.[32] The renovated building at Broadway and Fourth reopened as the new Junipero Serra State Office Building in 1999.[11] To balance the state budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sell the office building to private developers as a part of a sale and lease back scheme.[33]

As of 2020, the Junipero Serra Building is one of 56 buildings managed by California Department of General Services and only one of two (the other is the Ronald Reagan State Building) that are located in Los Angeles.[34]

Store list

This is a list of the Broadway store numbers with their locations and opening dates:[35][36][37]

Store no. Store name Mall or address (District &) City
(state=CA unless stated)
Opening date Architect Sq. ft. at opening Closing date Current building use Notes
01 Downtown 320 W. Fourth St., SW corner of Broadway and Fourth street
Original 1896 building
Historic Core, Downtown L.A. February 24, 1896 August 8, 1914[15] demolished in phases 1913-5
01 Downtown 320 W. Fourth St., SW corner of Broadway and Fourth street, through to Hill St.
("New and Greater Broadway" 1913-5 bldgs.)
Downtown L.A. March 11, 1913 (W.), October 8, 1914 (S.), June 25, 1915 (N.) John Joseph (J. J.) Frauenfelder of Parkinson & Bergstrom.[10] Claimed nearly 11 acres (480,000 sq ft) November 15, 1973 Junipero Serra State Office Bldg.
01 Plaza Broadway Plaza (now The Bloc), 700 S. Flower St. Downtown L.A. November 16, 1973 Charles Luckman & Assoc. Macy's
02 Hollywood[38] Broadway Hollywood Building, 6300 W. Hollywood Blvd. & 1645 N. Vine St. Hollywood, L.A. September 3, 1931
as B. H. Dyas
Frederick Rice Dorn[39] 172,000[38] February 13, 1982
03 Pasadena[23] 401 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena November 15, 1940[23] August 15, 1980 demolished 1980
04 Crenshaw (renamed Baldwin Hills in 1988) orig. Crenshaw Center, later Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Baldwin Hills/ Crenshaw, L.A. November 21, 1947[40] Albert B. Gardner[41] 200,000 (5 stories)[40] vacant was Macy's until 1999/Walmart until 2016
05 Westchester[25] 8739 Sepulveda Blvd. Westchester, L.A. August 18, 1950 Victor Gruen[24] 90,000[42] October 14, 1990 Kohl's March 17, 1949[24] as Milliron's Westchester, purchased by Broadway June 29, 1950[25]/first became Mervyn's until 2009
06 Valley (renamed Panorama City)[43][44] Panorama City Shopping Center, now Panorama Mall Panorama City, S.F.V., L.A. October 10, 1955[43] Welton Becket & Assoc. 226,000[44] 1996 Walmart initially was going to be a Macy's
07 Anaheim[45][46][47] Anaheim Plaza Anaheim October 14, 1955[47] Welton Becket & Assoc. 208,000[48] January 31, 1993 demolished, now site of power center
08 Long Beach[49] Los Altos Market Place Los Altos, Long Beach November 14, 1955
as Walker's[50]
Welton Becket & Assoc. (1955), Charles Luckman & Assoc. (1963 expansion)[51][52] 100,000[50] 1996 vacant originally a Walker's, became Broadway in 1957,[49] then became Sears until 2021
09 Del Amo Broadway/Del Amo Shopping Center Torrance February 16, 1959 Dick's Sporting Goods & Jo-Ann Fabrics Was planned to be Bloomingdales. Was Macy's home until 2014 (now Dick's Sporting Goods)
10 Wilshire 5600 Wilshire Boulevard Miracle Mile, L.A. August 3, 1960 closed 1980 demolished originally a Coulter's
11 Whittier[53] Whittwood Center Whittier February 13, 1961[53] 1996 Sears Originally planned to be Macy's
61 Downtown Phoenix 1 N. 1st St.[54] Phoenix, Arizona acquired 1962 Henry C. Trost, Trost & Trost[54][55] 1966 Opened as Korricks' in 1914
62 Chris-Town Chris-Town Mall, now Christown Spectrum Mall Phoenix, Arizona August 21, 1961 Welton Becket & Assoc. August 31, 1992 demolished now Walmart
36 Grossmont[56] Grossmont Center La Mesa, San Diego Co. June 11, 1961
as Marston's
Welton Becket & Assoc. 156,000[56] Macy's originally Marston's, rebranded Broadway in 1969
12 West Covina[57] West Covina Fashion Center, became part of what is now Plaza West Covina West Covina June 8, 1962[57] 1996 vacant was Sears until 2020
37 Chula Vista Chula Vista Center Chula Vista December 11, 1962 Charles Luckman & Assoc. Macy's originally Marston's, rebranded Broadway in 1969
13 Ventura Buenaventura Plaza, now Pacific View Mall Ventura September 30, 1963 Macy's
14 Topanga Plaza Topanga Plaza Canoga Park, S.F.V., L.A. August 24, 1964 1996 demolished was Sears until 2015
15 Century City Century City Shopping Center Century City, Westside, L.A. December 10, 1964 Welton Becket & Assoc. 1996 Bloomingdale's
16 Downey Stonewood Center Downey October 18, 1965 143,400[58] 1996 vacant was Sears until 2021
17 Huntington Beach[59] Huntington Center, now Bella Terra, I-405 at Edinger Huntington Beach November 15, 1965[60] Charles Luckman & Assoc.[61] 150,000[59] 1996 Kohl's Still continued to operate under Broadway name after Macy's renaming in other locations until closure in August 1996.
18 San Bernardino[62] Inland Center San Bernardino August 29, 1966[62] Charles Luckman & Assoc.[63] 158,000[62] Forever 21 was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store)
19 Boulevard Mall The Boulevard Mall Paradise, Las Vegas Valley, NV October 17, 1966 Charles Luckman & Assoc. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield offices was Macy's until 2017
20 Bakersfield Valley Plaza Mall Bakersfield February 27, 1967 Macy's
21 Fashion Island Fashion Island Newport Beach November 9, 1967 William Pereira, Welton Becket & Assoc. 1996 Bloomingdale's
22 Montclair[64] Montclair Plaza Montclair May 8, 1968[64] Charles Luckman & Assoc. 142,000[65] Demolished 2018[64] was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store). Now the site of a new AMC Theatres
63 Biltmore Fashion Park Biltmore Fashion Park Phoenix, AZ October 28, 1968 Charles Luckman & Assoc. Macy's
38 Fashion Valley Fashion Valley Mission Valley, San Diego August 9, 1969 Charles Luckman & Assoc. Macy's
64 Scottsdale[66] Los Arcos Mall Scottsdale, AZ October 18, 1969 Burke, Kober, Nicolais & Archuleta 156,000[66] 1996 demolished
23 Riverside[67] Tyler Mall Riverside December 10, 1970[67] Charles Luckman & Assoc. 156,000[67] Forever 21 was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store)
24 Orange[68] Mall of Orange, now The Village at Orange Orange August 16, 1971[68] Ainsworth and McClellan 167,500[68] 1996 demolished Rebuild into a Walmart
25 Cerritos[69] Los Cerritos Center Cerritos September 13, 1971[69] 178,000[69] Macy's
26 Northridge Northridge Fashion Center Northridge, S.F.V., L.A. October 18, 1971 1996 Partially demolished Was planned to become a Bloomingdale's. Still continued to operate under Broadway name after Macy's renaming in other locations until closure in August 1996. It has since been redeveloped into several other stores
27 Carson Carson Mall, renamed SouthBay Pavilion Carson October 9, 1973 Charles Luckman & Assoc. 9/1991 IKEA
65 Metrocenter Metrocenter N.W. Phoenix, AZ October 22, 1973 Charles Luckman & Assoc. demolished was Macy's until 2005, now demolished for Walmart Supercenter
28 Puente Hills[70] Puente Hills Mall City of Industry February 18, 1974[70] Charles Luckman & Assoc. 160,000[70] 1996 demolished now the site of AMC Theatres
29 Murray, Utah Fashion Place Murray, UT May 8, 1974 Charles Luckman & Assoc. 1993 demolished rebranded as Weinstock's 1/30/78 before being sold to Dillard's in 1993. After Dillard's relocated to the former Sears space in 2015, the building was demolished in 2016 and replaced by a Macy's.
66 Park Mall Park Mall Tucson, AZ August 26, 1974 Charles Luckman & Assoc. vacant was Macy's until 2020
30 Santa Anita Santa Anita Fashion Park Arcadia November 11, 1974[71] Macy's
31 Laguna Hills[72] Laguna Hills Mall Laguna Hills April 8, 1975[73] Edward Killingsworth Open Market OC (Furniture Store) was Macy's until 2018
32 Fox Hills[74] Fox Hills Mall Culver City June 10, 1975[74] William Pereira 192,470[74] Macy's
67 Albuquerque[75] Coronado Center Albuquerque, NM December 2, 1976 Chaix, Pujdak, Bielski, Takeuchi, Daggett Associated Architects & Planers[76] 159,378[75] Round 1 & Dick's Sporting Goods was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Foley's store)/part of store became Gordmans until 2017 (now Round 1)
33 Glendale Glendale Galleria Glendale August 8, 1976 Jon Jerde Macy's
34 Hawthorne[77] Hawthorne Plaza Hawthorne December 2, 1977 Charles Kober & Assoc. abandoned
39 UTC[78] University Towne Centre San Diego October 15, 1977[78] 155,000[78] Macy's
35 Sherman Oaks[79] Sherman Oaks Fashion Square Sherman Oaks, S.F.V., L.A. May 11, 1977[79] 183,000[79] 1996 Bloomingdale's
40 Thousand Oaks The Oaks Thousand Oaks February 18, 1978 demolished was Macy's (Women's & Children's) until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store), now the site of Nordstrom
42 Meadows Mall Meadows Mall Las Vegas, NV July 31, 1978 Charles Kober & Assoc. Macy's
41 Brea Brea Mall Brea October 21, 1978 Macy's (Women's) was full-line Macy's, now women's store (moved men's, children's, and home departments to former Robinsons-May store)
68 Fiesta Mall Fiesta Mall Mesa, Arizona March 10, 1979 demolished[80] was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store) building was demolished and replaced by Best Buy and Dick's Sporting Goods, now closed since 2016
43 Carlsbad Plaza Camino Real, now The Shoppes at Carlsbad Carlsbad October 20, 1979 Macy's (Women's and Children's)
29 Pasadena[81] Plaza Pasadena, now Paseo Colorado Pasadena August 16, 1980[81] Charles Kober & Assoc. 153,000[81] demolished Originally planned to become a Sears store. Number recycled from Utah location/was Macy's until 2013. The site was demolished in 2015 and has been rebuilt as a Hyatt Place hotel.
44 Santa Monica Place Santa Monica Place Santa Monica October 16, 1980 Frank Gehry vacant was Macy's until 2009, Bloomingdale's until 2021
45 Beverly Center Beverly Center Beverly Grove, w.L.A. March 25, 1982 Lou Nardorf of Welton Becket & Assoc. 1996 Bloomingdale's
47 Horton Plaza Horton Plaza Downtown San Diego April 10, 1985 Jon Jerde vacant was Macy's until 2020
48 North County Fair North County Fair Escondido February 13, 1986 Macy's
46 South Coast Plaza South Coast Plaza (Crystal Court) Costa Mesa October 31, 1986 Macy's Home Was initially planned to become a Bloomingdale's.
50 Santa Barbara Ortega Building, Paseo Nuevo Santa Barbara August 17, 1990[82] John Field 140,000[82] vacant was Macy's until 2017
opened specifically as Broadway Southwest locations:
69 Tucson Mall Tucson Mall Tucson, Arizona July 16, 1982 demolished was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store), now REI and Cheesecake Factory
70 Lakewood, CO Villa Italia Mall, now Belmar Lakewood, CO May 11, 1985 1987 Dick's Sporting Goods later became May D&F, then Foley's until 2001
71 Englewood, CO Cinderella City Englewood, CO May 11, 1985 1987 Englewood Public Library and City Hall later became May D&F, then Foley's until 1994
72 Westminster, CO Westminster Mall Westminster, CO October 30, 1986 1996 demolished became Sears until 2012
73 Paradise Valley, AZ Paradise Valley Mall Paradise Valley, AZ February 17, 1991 demolished was Macy's until 2006 (moved to Robinsons-May store), now Costco

The last Broadway Southwest store was originally planned to be built at Superstition Springs Center mall in Mesa, Arizona. But due to the attempted hostile takeover by The Limited, construction was halted. And as a result, it started doing business as Robinsons-May instead in 1994 (now Macy's since 2006).


See also


  1. ^ a b Groves, Martha (February 12, 1991). "The Broadway: Bright History, Uncertain Future". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Richardson, Eric (November 16, 2011). "38 Years Ago: Broadway Department Store Moved Off Namesake Street". Blogdowntown. KPCC.
  3. ^ "City News In Brief". Los Angeles Herald. Vol. 45, no. 134. February 22, 1896. p. 7 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. The stock of the Broadway store has been sold by the board of trade to Arthur Letts for the sum of $8377.
  4. ^ "Hallett And Pirtle Block". Los Angeles Herald. Vol. 44, no. 115. August 4, 1895. p. 6 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. The Superb New Broadway Structure at The Corner of Fourth Office and Mercantile Apartments of Modern Proportions The Upper Story to Be Utilized as a First Class Lodging Hotel With a Roof Garden
  5. ^ "Grand Opening Today; Finest Store of the Kind on the Pacific Coast Designed Like "The Fair"; Eighteen Departments Will Be Maintained". Los Angeles Herald. Vol. 44, no. 140. August 29, 1895. p. 5 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. The new institution will be styled J.A. Williams & Co., the members of the firm being Mr. J. A. Williams, and Mr. B.F. Overman. The place of business will be styled the Broadway Department Store, and it will occupy apartments in the Hallett & Pirtle building, at the corner of Fourth and Broadway.
  6. ^ "A Los Angeles Failure". San Francisco Call. Vol. 79, no. 55. January 24, 1896. p. 3 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. Broadway Department Store Attached by Several Creditors Yesterday.
  7. ^ "For Sale: Stock and Fixtures of Broadway Department Store". Los Angeles Herald. Vol. 45, no. 125. February 13, 1896. p. 4 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. The Creditors' Committee in the matter of J.A. Williams & Co. will receive sealed bids for the stock, fixtures and fittings of the Broadway Department Store, Pirtle Building, southwest corner Broadway and Fourth Street.
  8. ^ "Broadway Department Store". Los Angeles Herald. Vol. 45, no. 135. February 23, 1896 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection. The entire stock of J.A. Williams & Co. will be placed on sale Monday, February 24th, and must be Closed Out in Thirty Days...Broadway Department Store; Arthur Letts, Assignee; Corner Fourth and Broadway.
  9. ^ a b Findlay, Paul (February 1918). "How They Did It". System: The Magazine of Business. Vol. 33, no. 2. pp. 200–202.
  10. ^ a b "Plans Out for Mammoth Store". Los Angeles Times. December 29, 1912.
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  12. ^ "Flits without Hour's Loss: Big Department Store Moves between Days". Los Angeles Times. November 2, 1913.
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  24. ^ a b c "Milliron's New Store Will Open Tomorrow". Los Angeles Times. March 16, 1949.
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  26. ^ Callender, Ealena (February 16, 1996). "Going Upscale : Beverly Center Broadway Will Become Bloomingdale's". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ Carlton, Jim (October 5, 1988). "John Wayne's Daughter, Friend Attacked". Los Angeles Times.
  28. ^ Davidson, Jean & Carlton, Jim (October 7, 1988). "Luby--a Success Story Plagued With Problems". Los Angeles Times.
  29. ^ Gordon, Larry (June 8, 1995). "State to Buy Broadway Site : Renewal: Officials plan to renovate old department store complex Downtown for government offices". Los Angeles Times.
  30. ^ Reich, Kenneth (March 17, 1997). "State to Vacate and Demolish Quake-Threatened Office Building". Los Angeles Times.
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